You might be looking through college brochures and thinking, “I’ll have to spend $50,000 or more just so I can make $50,000 or more? What sense does this make?” Over time, it can make sense, especially if you have a clearly-defined professional goal. However, since a lot of college time consists of ‘going through the motions,’ you may want to skip it and get into a different career path.
The following jobs don’t require a degree (though they do require training), and the 2010 average annual salaries show how well they pay.
10. Nuclear Power Plant Operator ($64,090): How hard could it be, right? Well, running a nuclear power plant does require vocational schooling, so you can’t just walk in right after high school and work with uranium. But you don’t need to be a physicist.
9. First-line Police Supervisor ($64,430): In this, as with most management positions, formal schooling takes a back seat to the ability to influence people. When you’ve got the gumption to keep hard-charging police under your thumb, a degree is just a piece of paper.
8. Gaming Manager ($64,880): Managing a casino (or working as a pit boss) requires a lot of finesse and quick decision-making skills, but it doesn’t require a lot of school. You don’t need to be able to mentally calculate someone’s odds of winning the game — you just need to make sure they win (or generally lose) without cheating.
7. Computer Tech Support Specialist ($67,689): This is different from the tech support most of us end up talking to over the phone, because these specialists don’t just reading off of a script. It pays to know what you’re talking about, especially when everybody needs to use it.
6. Distribution and Storage Manager ($69,898): You can make a mint if you know the ins and outs of getting what people want into their hands (or into their warehouses). This falls to influence far more than to formal education.
5. Transportation Specialist ($72,662): This is closely related to the distribution role above. In this case, it’s decisions like “by plane or by ship?” that make you the big bucks.
4. Industrial Production Manager ($73,000): Managing a factory is tough, but most of the challenges are in dealing with people, not the complexities of the equipment.
3. Operations Manager ($77,839): Being able to operate a business with a lot of people (and all of their issues) takes a lot of grit and plenty of persuasiveness. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of schooling.
2. Funeral Director ($79,517): While being a mortician requires a degree in mortuary sciences, you can direct funerals with only the tact to make the bereaved feel at ease.
1. Air Traffic Controller ($102,030): Just keep them taking off, flying and landing safely. It does take training, just not a degree.
Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you’ll be a millionaire at 50. However, not getting a degree doesn’t mean you’ll be doomed to sweep floors or trim trees, either. And if you have already gotten a degree, and want a change of career, there’s always a way you can afford to go back to school.
Sometimes all you need is ambition, drive and minimal training to maintain a successful career.